Future of Home – Resilience

A protective aspect of home in the future will gain a momentum as we face more environmental & health challenges from the outside world. The way we engage with our home will be more interactive & organic.

Future of Home – Resilience

This Story is part of a series.

  • Joyce Moore Design Researcher, designaffairs
  • Mattawan Sutjaritthanarak Design Researcher, designaffairs
  • Antonia Meißner Design Researcher, designaffairs

The first pandemic in more than a century has raised the serious question of our dependency on complex, non-local supply-chains for food, medical supplies and healthcare.

In the future, this is likely to continue as we experience on and off confinement periods, which will urge people to be more self-reliant by growing more edible plants, cook more at home or purchase fundamental healthcare devices ready for use at home. In this future, basic needs such as food production and consumption, as well as healthcare access, are radically rethought.

The organism that will be our “home” will integrate food production and medical access into its ecosystem. As resources like water and air are purified at home, the domestic space might become one of the best places for food production. This gives rise to the concept of edible homes that offer integrated food production system including: an organic wall that purifies the air while self-growing herbs and plants, a recycling water system, and the possibility to print food from ingredients that can be stored for a long period etc.

In the future healthcare services will expand well beyond hospitals and pharmacies.

In this future they are better integrated into the home’s environment as well as into the local communities around the house, allowing inhabitants to be less dependent on conventional healthcare channels. This will ensure more efficient access to healthcare systems and reduce the burden on healthcare workers. Furthermore, drugs and remedies could be produced at home in consultation and conjunction with hospitals, physicians and bio-tech brands. The merging of medical and food production techniques could also help the elderly to live ‘self-silently’ and more independently for longer – allow them to readily adapt to any future disease outbreaks.

Home will become a more holistic & complex living organism, from a food-production site to an extended space for healthcare.
Home will become a more holistic & complex living organism, from a food-production site to an extended space for healthcare.

Future of Home: A story of Bert’s healthy living at home

In a continuously growing and ageing society where healthcare institutions are strained due to frequent occurring pandemics, people will be required to be self-reliant while at home including taking care of their own healthcare needs. Yet, sick or elderly people will increasingly need continuous support, monitoring and care. In this future, how could we enable seniors to live in their home for as long as possible? How could they be protected, supported, and engaged to live a healthy and active life even in old age?

Imagine Bert, a 74-year old retiree suffering from high blood pressure and a weak heart, sitting at home, and feeling overwhelmed when looking at his and his wife’s 28 bottles of different meds. He has always hated swallowing all these pills and he gets scared when he thinks that it could be life-threatening, if he or his wife forget to take even one of them. Also, the long walks to the pharmacy and the doctor become more taxing each time. He knows that it would make sense to move to an assisted living facility or even a nursing home, but neither he nor his wife is keen to leave their familiar environment – not to mention the enormous costs. He wonders whether there is a way to simplify this whole medication cycle and he plans to ask his doctor for a solution next time.

Bert is informed by his doctor about alternative ways of how to keep track of his daily medication.
Bert is informed by his doctor about alternative ways of how to keep track of his daily medication.

Bert is excited about the new device, which will save him the burdensome trips to the pharmacy. The device works like a 3D-printer that calculates and prints each individual medication dose on demand. Prepared cartridges with the raw ingredients are directly delivered to Bert’s home. The only thing he must do is to insert them into the device.

Bert and his wife receive the new device. They get additional support by the company’s service: a technician helps them installing and starting the device.
Bert and his wife receive the new device. They get additional support by the company’s service: a technician helps them installing and starting the device.

QR-Codes printed on the front of the cartridges make it possible for the device to automate tasks such as programming the medication plan, calculating the dosages, as well as dispensing them at the right time. Bert is especially happy about the new form of medication. Instead of having to swallow a large portion of pills, he can now easily drink his medicine, which is dispensed in the form of tiny jellylike bubbles, in whatever liquid he prefers – the device can prepare both cold and warm beverages. This fits perfectly into Bert’s daily routine since he is used to brewing a cup of tea in the mornings and evenings. In case he should forget, a wristband reminds Bert of his medication. When Bert is out to visit a friend or a family member, he lets the device dispense his medication into an easily transportable bottle.

The procedure of taking his medication regularly and dosed accurately is far way easier now. Bert can drink his medicine with any preferred liquid and is actively reminded on a regular basis.
The procedure of taking his medication regularly and dosed accurately is far way easier now. Bert can drink his medicine with any preferred liquid and is actively reminded on a regular basis.

The device not only functions as a medication reminder and dispenser – it forms the center of a whole healthcare eco-system that connects Bert with all the important institutions and caregivers. Since he also agrees to enable his wristband to collect several health indicators, Bert’s doctor is always informed about his state of health. In case of any abnormalities, the doctor can check-in on Bert via video call. All this is possible due to a new data privacy standard that protects citizen’s privacy and function based on user’s consent. Bert can also contact his local pharmacy if he has any questions about his medication. As the device behaves like a smart personal assistant, he is now more aware of his health and his medication plan, because he can talk to the device, ask questions, and retrieve explanations and health tips. Moreover, he can do some of his physiotherapy exercises at home, either using prepared videos or watching his physiotherapist live on a hologramHe feels more in control of his health now and is satisfied that he can still master his life independently at home.

The device now functions as a whole healthcare eco-system: it supports Bert and his wife with their daily medication actively. In case of doubt, in enables them to stay in personal contact with their doctor or local pharmacy.

For the future, should his wife’s or his medication plan become even more complicated, he plans to get an injection patch. This patch would be attached to the body and automatically dispense different medications throughout the day all the while checking in on different health parameters.

The next step of this automated medication could be an injection patch.

Continue reading part 3 and find out about a new definition of togetherness, where care is not limited to biological relatives.

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